Most of you now know that I go to a lot of antique and flea markets to find my beads. But one of my more unusual bead finds literally, involved, digging into the ground to find beads. This took place one fine weekend in the spring when I decided to drag the entire family for a bead adventure. I had heard about the town of Briare (about an hour and a half away from Paris) and how this was once the site of a huge glass making factory. At its heyday in the mid-19th century the Briare glass factory established by Jean-Baptieste Bapterosses produced 600 tons of buttons and 496 tons of glass beads! Bapterosses was an innovator who was one of the first to figure out how to mass produce buttons and beads. Unfortunately decline set in during the early 20th century after the demand for porcelain buttons went down and the factory has long since been sold.
But what intrigued me was the site just behind the factory where defective buttons, tiles and beads were dumped. The idea of beads just lying below the surface of the ground was of course irresistible so we set out to hunt for these Briare beads.
We walked through a passage of trees to emerge into a wide clearing covered entirely with tiles.
After bead production was shut down, the factory turned to the production of tiles for which they are still known today. And while I was worried about trespassing and all that, luck was with us that day. Several families had the same idea and were busy digging for tiles and filing bags with them.
And true enough, there were beads to be found just by digging a little through the surface filled with tiles.
Just check out our haul from that day! Gorgeous beads that looked as fresh as the day they came out of production. Briare beads are distinctive for their slightly glossy finish and by the equatorial band running all along the bead.
I came home pretty satisfied with my find. And I finally got around to making a piece with my Briare finds. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post!